There are a few ways that current nursing students and recent graduates can prepare for one of the biggest exams of their academic career.
Graduating with an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing does not mean you are a registered nurse (RN). In fact, you are not officially a registered nurse until you pass the NCLEX, a nationwide examination required for nursing licensure. There is no magic formula for success, but there are a few ways that current nursing students and recent graduates can prepare for one of the biggest exams of their academic career:
Study early and often. Some students wait until a few days before the exam to study for the NCLEX, but you should really begin on day one of nursing school. The NCLEX is a cumulative exam, and you need to continually review the information in order to commit it to memory. Do not try to cram the night before the exam—you will be unsuccessful. Instead, after you graduate, dedicate at least one hour each night to reviewing material for the exam.
Take advantage of outside resources. If your school offers products like ATI NCLEX Review or Kaplan NCLEX Test Prep, use them to their full potential. Schools offer these resources to help students prepare, but many students choose not to take advantage of them. These tools are proven to be helpful, so don’t waste an opportunity to maximize your chances for success!
Practice. The NCLEX involves more than straightforward multiple choice questions. Work on mastering “select all that apply” or multiple answer questions. You must get all the answers correct, or you won’t get credit for the question. Many nursing instructors will incorporate this style of questioning into their exams to help prepare students for the NCLEX. While you might be frustrated when you do not receive partial credit for a question, it is important to realize that there is no such thing as partial credit on the NCLEX. Review past exams from class to become more familiar with the types of questions you might encounter on the NCLEX.
Set yourself up for success. Don’t stay up late hanging out with your friends on the night before the exam. Go to bed at a reasonable hour and set your alarm so that you’re able to eat a good breakfast and get to the testing location before the exam start time. You can celebrate after you pass!
Relax. Last but not least, be relaxed going into the exam. It’s okay to be a little nervous, but don’t discourage yourself. Remember all the hard work that you have done to get to this point, and be confident that all of your studying will pay off!
Whether you’re a current student or a recent graduate, it’s important to study as much as you can for the NCLEX. These tips will help you prepare to conquer the exam and set you on the right path to a successful nursing career!
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Michelle D. Metzger is a Registered Nurse who earned her Master of Science in Nursing Administration (MSN) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2013. She has more than 20 years’ experience in healthcare starting as a Certified Nurses’ Assistant. Michelle is currently the Department Chair of Nursing at the Herzing University Kenosha Campus. Also, she is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Nursing Practice in Education Leadership.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.